Former small-town superintendent Marc Thielman, who fought against mask-wearing rules during the pandemic, won the Republican governor’s straw poll of a few hundred conservative Republican Party loyalists in Welches on Saturday night, beating many of the more well-funded fronts in the race. -runners.
Thielman, who served as superintendent of the Alsea School District for more than a decade, received 53% of the vote in the first round of ranking voting at the traditional Dorchester Conference of Oregon Republicans. He beat Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam who got 17%, political consultant Bridget Barton who got 13% and former House Minority Leader Christine Drazan with 9% of the vote. Bud Pierce, a Salem oncologist who was the Republican nominee in 2016 and is leading in some polls, received less than 1%.
Only 223 votes were cast in Saturday’s poll, which historically has not been an accurate predictor of who will win the Republican primary, but is an indicator of which candidates some conservative party leaders favor.
While 19 Republicans filed for Oregon governor, only nine were on the ballot for Saturday’s straw ballot. Ranking voting meant that the candidates with the fewest votes were eliminated round by round. In the final round, Thielman got 61% of the vote, beating Barton, who got 25%.
The Dorchester Conference, launched in 1965, has in recent years drawn conservatives and party loyalists from across the state for a weekend of speeches, festivities and candidate debates.
Thielman, a conservative Republican, has raised about $251,000 so far, which includes a $20,000 loan he made to his campaign, campaign finance records show. This has nothing to do with the $2.14 million raised by Drazan, the nearly $1.3 million raised by former lawmaker and business consultant Bob Tiernan, and the nearly $1 million that Pierce donated to his own campaign, which raised nearly $1.6 million in total.
Thielman made waves in January when the Alsea School Board voted on his request to make masks optional in classrooms, going against COVID-19 protocols set by the Oregon Health Authority.
In February, Thielman resigned as superintendent, saying he wanted to devote his full attention to running for governor. His resignation came a week after three formal complaints were filed against him, alleging a hostile work environment, illegal firing practices and disregard for views that were not his own.